Bearley Gardeners met on Thursday 16th March 2017 in Bearley Village Hall to hear Frank Hardy take us through a sequence of plants that flower, or produce colourful leaves, from late Winter to mid Spring.
In his usual forthright but entertaining way, he advised us on the do’s and don’ts of what grows well and where to grow it!
Apparently, this Spring has been a very good one because after a wet spell in summer, we had a dry, sunny spell in autumn.
Frank advised that snowdrops are best propagated by lifting the clumps after flowering, (in the green) separating them, then re-planting them, as opposed to planting bulbs that take a long time to increase in numbers. Aconite bulbs need to be soaked before planting. The blue crocus “Tomasinus” is good for naturalising. Small Tete-a-Tete daffodils have many flowers per bulb. Small “Cyclamanus" daffodils are also good flower producers - variety "Peeping Tom”. The small blue Scillas provide a strong splash of blue as do Muscari (grape hyacinths). Swathes of the larger daffodils grow through March and April in gardens and countryside brightening the days. Bluebells appear later in April/May.
Early-flowering deciduous shrubs and trees play a large part in bringing colour. Hazel catkins appear in February, forsythia is flowering now. A small 5ft variety called “Nimbus” is better for smaller gardens or large pots. Viburnum has white flowers. There is also a small 3ft version of Photinia (Red robin) with new red leaves appearing above the old green ones now. Light coloured flowers on hellebores rather than the darker maroon ones, show up better when they are grown in shade. Plants grown under other plants are less liable to be affected by frost.
The “Carnea” strain of heathers which tolerate alkaline soils are out now. The perennial wallflower - “Erysimum” is becoming a popular plant. Foliage plants - Choisya (Mexican Orange Blossom) has scented flowers and either yellow or green evergreen leaves.
After the talk, the forty or so plant examples we had seen were put up for sale - and there were not many left.
Our Chairman, Derek Bull, gave the vote of thanks pointing out that we all had smiles on our faces after this evening’s entertainment from Frank Hardy.
Our next meeting is on Thursday 20th April at 7.30pm in Bearley Village Hall, when Adrian James will give an illustrated talk on "Courtyard Gardens”
Visitors would be most welcome to join us.
View of main Villa
On Thursday 16th February 2017, Bearley Gardeners were entertained by Duncan Coombs who gave us an illustrated talk on Lawrence Johnston's other House and Gardens at Serre de la Madone in Southern France.
Hidcote village and Manor had been purchased for £7200 by Mrs Gertrude Winthrop, Lawrence’s mother, in 1907, and Lawrence set about landscaping the garden of the house, building up a wide range of plants, many from plant expeditions abroad. Eventually, Hidcote Garden and Manor House were passed to the National Trust in 1948.
From 1924, Mrs Winthrop gradually purchased several plots of land and a house in Southern France at Menton where she had been staying during the winter months and by 1940 Lawrence had renovated the rough French countryside into another garden. It was called “Serre de la Madone”. The land was on a south - facing slope from 108 metres above sea level, going down to 50 metres near the Mediterranean Sea. He sponsored and took part in, many Plant Hunting expeditions over the years to places like the Swiss Alps, the Andes and South Africa. From the Himalayas in Yunnan, he discovered and brought back the Mahonia shrub. It is a well-known evergreen, prickly-leaved shrub with spikes of yellow flowers in late winter. In 1924, he climbed Mount Kilimanjaro as part of an expedition.
Lawrence could grow plants here in southern France, that would not survive in the English climate and as there were basically two gardens, there was plenty of space for him to grow all the plants that he collected. There is a Greenhouse there similar to the one at Hidcote. Lawrence died in 1958 and the Garden and House, were taken over by the French State and a local Municipality.
As Mike Diggines has been to Southern France, he gave a vote of thanks to Duncan for an interestingly illustrated and informative set of slides about Lawrence Johnston's life history including Serre de la Madone and also about how his rich Mother’s, his Father’s and Step-father’s lives affected his life, basically, providing plenty of money to finance and further his interest in Plant expeditions, plants in general, garden planning and landscaping.
Our next meeting will be at Bearley Village Hall at 7.30pm. On Thursday 26th March when Frank Hardy will return to give us another of his forthright talks on a topic of his choosing. Visitors will be most welcome to join us there and see what Frank has to say.
New Season Programme 2017
Adrian James - Courtyard Gardens.
Visit to Blenheim Nurseries - Steve Felix Creating Hanging Baskets.